Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/449

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SCARS AND PURIFICATION.

to remain in his quiet seclusion in his native land. But he now prepared to leave Amsterdam, for, though he was free from all anger, he could not always suppress the sudden emotion which often agitated him so painfully at seeing himself surrounded by dislike and avoidance in his native place. It was more painful to him innocently to raise this feeling in others than to bear its consequences himself.

The peculiarities of the friends showed themselves in these discussions in a characteristic manner. Meyer found extreme pleasure in lashing the transgressions, the narrowness, the stupidity of men with his sharp satire. Oldenburg declined this means, because any violent opposition, all hand to hand conflict with the common herd, appeared to him unlovely and unclean; and thus Spinoza and Oldenburg often agreed. What the other totally avoided from a certain feeling for harmony Spinoza reasoned out for himself on a foundation of knowledge.

"The investigation of the incongruities and failings of mankind," he said, "can only serve to teach us not to be carried away by controversy, but rather to quietly work out our own laws of action, and conquer the violence of our tempers in the shortest possible time. It is an illusion if men think to make themselves free and happy by finding out the deficiencies and deformities of others and va-